There are not too many things in life that are certain, as the saying goes, except for death and taxes. But in addition to those two things, I would like to add one more that I have discovered over the years. That one certain thing that we all must do is to praise and thank God. We must always find the time to do this, even during the bad times. Why? Because not only is it what we were made for, but it brings untold graces into our bodies and souls as well. Praising God should be as natural to us as breathing or eating. Let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say about this.
An Old Testament Sacrifice of Praise
In the Old Testament, there were animal sacrifices. Every day in the Temple in Jerusalem, animals were slaughtered twice a day in fulfillment of the punishment for the Golden Calf incident. But in addition to animal sacrifices, there was also the “Todah” sacrifice, or the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving (“todah” in Hebrew can be translated into either “praise” or “thanksgiving” in English). The Todah sacrifice was offered by the Jews to God in thanksgiving for a successful outcome to a bad situation. It can be found in Leviticus 7:11-14:
“This is the ritual for the communion sacrifice that is offered to the LORD. If someone offers it for thanksgiving, that person shall offer it with unleavened cakes mixed with oil, unleavened wafers spread with oil, and cakes made of bran flour mixed with oil and well kneaded. One shall present this offering together with loaves of leavened bread along with the thanksgiving communion sacrifice. From this the individual shall offer one bread of each type of offering as a contribution to the LORD; this shall belong to the priest who splashes the blood of the communion offering.”
Here in Leviticus we have a biblical type of the Eucharist, with a priest, communion, thanksgiving, unleavened bread, and blood! The Todah sacrifice was the only time that non-priestly Jews could eat consecrated bread.
The Passover meal is also a “todah” sacrifice:
Exodus 12:14: “This day will be a day of remembrance for you, which your future generations will celebrate with pilgrimage to the LORD; you will celebrate it as a statute forever.”
The word “remembrance” used here is “anamnesis” in Greek. “Anamnesis” means to perform a memorial sacrifice so as to make the past event present today, in a spiritual way. That is why the Jews to this day, personalize the Passover meal by including themselves as slaves in Egypt, by saying,
Deuteronomy 6:21:“We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the L-rd, our G-d, took us out from there with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm.”
The Passover Becomes the Eucharist
Jesus forever changed the old Passover meal into the “Eucharist,” which means “Thanksgiving,” during the Last Supper. First He gave thanks, then He held up a piece of unleavened bread, and declared it be His body. Next, He held up a cup of wine and declared it to be His blood. Then He said to “do this in “remembrance” (anamnesis) of me. When we participate in this memorial sacrificial meal called the Eucharist, we are doing much more than just “recalling” a past event. Like the Jews and the Passover, the past event, the original Eucharist (a memorial sacrifice of Christ Himself which forgives venial sins), becomes spiritually and physically present to us today. Through time and space, the exact same sacrifice of Christ Himself (it is not a re-sacrifice, but a re-presentation of the original one) now becomes our saving grace. The daily supernatural food of the Eucharist at Mass now replaces the daily supernatural manna in the desert. Instead of the manna curing the hunger of the Jews, the Eucharist now cures our sinfulness. Pope St. John Paul II said that by participating in the Eucharist, a “sacrifice of praise,” is to offer praise as a sacrifice! When we pray the “Our Father” and ask God to “give us this day “our daily bread,” we are asking Jesus for the grace to receive Him daily in the Eucharist, just as the Jews received manna daily in the desert.
Praise and Thanksgiving Scripture Verses
But there are certainly other times that we can praise God outside of Mass. The Archangel Raphael in the book of Tobit says this:
Tobit 12:6-7: “Raphael called the two of them aside privately and said to them: “Bless God and give him thanks before all the living for the good things he has done for you, by blessing and extolling his name in song. Proclaim before all with due honor the deeds of God, and do not be slack in thanking him. A king’s secret should be kept secret, but one must declare the works of God and give thanks with due honor. Do good, and evil will not overtake you.”
Here God’s messenger St. Raphael tells us all that we must bless God and thank Him with honor. This isn’t a suggestion; rather it’s a message straight from our Creator on what we are supposed to be doing.
Psalm 22:27: “The poor will eat their fill; those who seek the LORD will offer praise. May your hearts enjoy life forever!”
Here we learn that if you are seeking the Lord, you WILL offer praise.
Psalm 113: 1-3: “Hallelujah! Praise, you servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD. Blessed be the name of the LORD both now and forever. From the rising of the sun to its setting let the name of the LORD be praised.”
“Hallelujah” is a contraction that means “Praise Yahweh.” Here we learn that God wants to be praised all day long. This is done at Mass in the Eucharist, because the Catholic Church has continual Masses all day long the world over, but it is also a good thing for us to pause in our daily hubbub and to take the time to praise and to thank God in our hearts and in our minds. Why? Because everything we have – our health, our minds, our families, our homes, our food, our air, etc. – all come from God.
Psalm 146: 1-2: “Hallelujah! Praise the LORD, my soul; I will praise the LORD all my life, sing praise to my God while I live.”
Here we see that even our souls should praise God. What this means is that we shouldn’t just give lip service to praising God, but we should also meditate on His goodness and praise Him from the core of our being. And singing praise to God is a great way to do that!
One of the absolute best long praises of God is found in Daniel 3, verses 52-90. Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego are very thankful from being saved from burning by God.
Isaiah 62:8-9: “The LORD has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: No more will I give your grain as food to your enemies; Nor shall foreigners drink the wine, for which you toiled. But those who harvest shall eat, and praise the LORD; Those who gather shall drink in my holy courts.”
Here the prophet Isaiah says that one day we will be praising God in a holy place while eating grain and drinking wine (not grape juice). This now happens at each Holy Mass with the Eucharist.
Sirach 43:30-34: “What shall we be able to do to glorify him? for the Almighty himself is above all his works. The Lord is terrible, and exceeding great, and his power is admirable. Glorify the Lord as much as ever you can, for he will yet far exceed, and his magnificence is wonderful. Blessing the Lord, exalt him as much as you can: for he is above all praise. When you exalt him put forth all your strength, and be not weary: for you can never go far enough.”
Here the book of Sirach (also known as Ecclesiasticus) tells us how great God is, and how we can never praise Him enough. It’s probably a good idea to ask for Mary’s intercession here. She can certainly praise God for us, both continually and in a more profound way.
1 Thessalonians 2:13: “And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly, that, in receiving the word of God from hearing us, you received not a human word but, as it truly is, the word of God, which is now at work in you who believe.”
Here St. Paul says that he thanks God non-stop. We, his descendants in Christ, should do no less.
1 Thessalonians 5:18: “In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
Here St. Paul tells us to give thanks to God no matter how good or bad things get. Why? Because it’s God’s will!
A Practical Way to Praise God
There are several ways to thank and to praise God, but my favorite, as Psalm 146 verse 2 said above, is singing. Here are some great praise songs that one can sing on the way to work, in the shower, or while going for a walk.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church on Praise
CCC2639: “Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God. It lauds God for his own sake and gives him glory, quite beyond what he does, but simply because HE IS. It shares in the blessed happiness of the pure of heart who love God in faith before seeing him in glory. By praise, the Spirit is joined to our spirits to bear witness that we are children of God, testifying to the only Son in whom we are adopted and by whom we glorify the Father. Praise embraces the other forms of prayer and carries them toward him who is its source and goal: the “one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist.”
Quotes from the Saints
“One must arrange one’s life so that everything praises God.” –-St. John Paul II
“The most deadly poison of our times is indifference. And this happens, although the praise of God should know no limits. Let us strive, therefore, to praise Him to the greatest extent of our powers.” –St. Maximilian Kolbe
“Reflect upon the providence and wisdom of God in all created things and praise Him in them all.” – – St. Theresa of Avila
“I will suggest a means whereby you can praise God all day long. Whatever you do, do it well, and you have praised God.” — St. Augustine
“When you awake in the night, transport yourself quickly in spirit before the Tabernacle, saying: ‘Behold, my God, I come to adore You, to praise, thank, and love you, and to keep you company with all the Angels.” –– St. John Vianney